By Christie W
On October 1st, 2017 at 9pm, my boyfriend Justin told me he loved me for the very first time. I responded with “Took you long enough.” We were surrounded by friends and family, and enjoying the third night of the country music festival that I practically forced him to attend with me. My sister even snappped a picture right before he said it.
Less than an hour later a gunman opened fire down on us. We were separated and apart for over an hour. As I hid, I thought back over that moment prior, when he told me that he had felt it for so long but wanted the perfect time. I was scared, thinking maybe that was the only time I would hear it from him. 58 people died that night, including a good friend of mine. We were blessed to reunite physically unharmed.
On the drive home the next morning there were no words. Until he turned to me and said: “Can we talk about how I told you I loved you, and you responded with telling me it took you long enough?” It’s the only smile I remember having and it’s the only words we spoke the entire 4.5-hour drive home.
We still tell the story. It was a defining moment for our relationship even outside of the mass shooting. We say I love you constantly and I mean it with every ounce of me, even if it took him long enough to finally admit it.